Tucked away into one of the quietest parts of Alwarpet, Chennai, The Summer House Eatery feels homey right from the moment we enter its lawn. Lush greenery and a rare summer breeze follow us along the driveway and when the doors open, everything else flies out of our thoughts except how gorgeous the place looks. Minimalistic and elegant with a strong focus on a clean and fresh style, the interiors will stay with the guests for a long time.
An old-world charm
“The place used to be director Mani Ratnam’s old office. We fell in love with it the moment we saw it and we expanded into the garden to make more room. High ceilinged places are hard to find in Chennai and it has an old-world charm that we just couldn’t resist,” says Mathangi Kumar, chef, and partner at The Summer House Eatery. She, along with music director Anirudh, wedding photographer Rakesh Prakash and entrepreneur Shreya Bajaj are the partners here at The Summer House Eatery that launched about four and a half months back.
“The food we serve has influences from every major cuisine of the world,” says Mathangi, a Le Cordon Bleu alumnus, who has curated the menu with a good dose of her signature touches, making it a homely indulgence which along with the relaxing ambiance make our meal a truly laidback affair. It’s not just the food that bears her style but the walls too. We learn that she has designed the hipsterish art on the wall and we are mighty impressed.
Mixing it up
The courteous staff hand over a whole tender coconut with the top sliced off and a metal straw put in. “We’re trying to do away with plastic around here,” explains Mathangi to our puzzled look. Always welcome news, that.
Moving on to the meal, we start with the Korean Fried Chicken. Chicken thighs, the juicier cuts when compared to the breasts, tossed in a sweet and spicy, fermented Korean chilli sauce are succulent and surprisingly crispy on the outside. Chicken appetizers always win and this one was no exception.
The Peppers and Queso served with chorizos was a one-of-a-kind dish we absolutely loved. The crispy chorizos were the perfect accompaniment to the dish of sautéed peppers cooked in a flavorful beer-cheese sauce. This is one cheesy dish even the pickiest of eaters just can’t say no to.
An aromatic affair
Our main course was the Spaghetti in Thai Chilli Jam, which usually comes with either shiitake mushrooms or prawns but the chef was kind enough to serve ours with a bit of both. Rich, smoky mushrooms and fat, juicy prawns went beautifully with the spicy spaghetti. If you love your food spicy, this one is for you.
We tried the Teppanyaki style Garlic Butter Rice next and it was simply one of the best. Jasmine rice tossed with veggies, garlic, and flavored butter makes the dish melt in the mouth. The rice was aromatic and satisfying, a great pair.
For dessert, we had their lovely Tiramisu, a huge slice of it, that tastes just as good as it looks. The fork sinks into the layers with the slightest touch and we polish off the slice in no time. Light and rich is a rare combination and yet the tiramisu pulls it off fabulously.
Our Chocolate Orange Cake with Cointreau was as rich and sinful as they come. The dense, moist cake looks so chocolaty, it’s hard to believe that there’s orange in there. Not so hard once we taste it. The classic combo of chocolate and orange tastes delicious and the Cointreau takes the whole thing up a notch.
When it comes to beverages, guests can enjoy a hot cup of authentically prepared Vietnamese tea, cold-pressed juices or try the artisan teas from brands like Ausum and The Hillcart Tales that they have on sale. Delicacies from their a la carte menu or their specially crafted High Tea and Brunch menus, nothing disappoints here at The Summer House Eatery. One of their walls hollers, “Eat Y’all,” and we’re glad we heeded.